Monday, 11 July 2011

Are They That Different?

Are they that different?
I am consistently surprised at the culture shock I get when I travel to the USA. I keep thinking we are so similar (and we are) but we are also so different.

It's easy to spot some differences. They drive on a different side of the road and a different side of the car. They have money that is all the same colour. They spell colour without the "u". But these are the easy ones.

Some of the more subtle or peculiar ones are: they use their cutlery differently (especially how they hold a fork), their food looks like ours but tastes different, their coffee is NOT coffee and their approach to customer service is very different to ours.

It would be easy to get in to a "whose is best" kind of discussion and the answer is no-ones. Each approach is not better simply different. Sometimes it is easy to see the differences like the ones mentioned, but there are others that are not that easy to see.  This is not just between cultures, it's also between people.

This is where a behavioural preference tool like DISC comes in handy. They enable you to consider others (like a partner, colleague, client or prospect) and determine how they like to behave and communicate.  You can then change your style to match theirs. This will enable you to have much more effective communication and better relationships.

DO NOT try and make them change to suit you.  Many have tried and failed.  You can never change others, only yourself.  The truth is that people are VERY different, regardless of cultural background.  Behavioural flexibility will increase your chance of success.

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